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Important information: The value of investments can go down as well as up so you may get back less than you invest. Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. This is a third-party news feed and may not reflect Fidelity’s views.

London close: Stocks make small gains in wake of rate decisions

(Sharecast News) - London stocks closed with minimal changes on Monday, following a week marked by significant central bank decisions.

The FTSE 100 index saw a modest increase of 0.5% to 7,614.48, while the FTSE 250 index experienced marginal movement, gaining 0.06% to 19,220.55.

On the currency front, sterling was last down 0.22% on the dollar, trading at $1.2653, while it decreased 0.47% against the euro to change hands at €1.1582.

"We've seen a negative start to the last trading week before Christmas, with the FTSE 100 bucking the negative tone due to a strong performance from the energy sector, along with telecoms amid M&A speculation," said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.

"This morning's jump in oil and gas prices has sent BP and Shell higher on the back of the decision by BP to suspend all tanker transits through the Red Sea until further notice due to safety concerns over Houthi rebel attacks.

"Given the importance of the Red Sea and Suez Canal as a crucial transit point for both crude oil and natural gas, these suspensions mean that cargos face a lengthy diversion around the Horn of Africa, which will add significant costs to company supply chains, as well as having significant inflationary impacts."

German business climate declines, US housing market improves

In economic news, Germany's business climate faced an unexpected drop in December, as both current conditions and future confidence indicators dipped.

The IFO Institute's business climate index, a monthly survey encompassing approximately 9,000 German manufacturing, services, trade, and construction businesses, dropped to 86.4 for the month, down from a revised 87.2 in November.

That fell short of the anticipated 87.8 and marked the lowest reading in three months.

The current assessment sub-index also decreased from 89.4 to 88.5, missing the expected 89.5, while the expectations indicator slipped from 85.1 to 84.3, below the anticipated 85.8 estimate.

Across the Atlantic, the National Association of Housebuilders reported a slight uptick in the US housing market index, to 37 in December from the nearly one-year low of 34 in November, surpassing predictions of 36.

Housebuilder sentiment experienced its first increase in five months, boosted by declining mortgage rates and recent positive economic data, hinting at improved housing conditions as we head into 2024.

The sub-index for current single-family home sales remained stable at 40, while the sub-index for expected home sales over the next six months increased from 39 to 45.

The gauge for prospective buyers also showed growth, rising from 21 to 24.

Vodafone rises on M&A reports, Fresnillo in the red

On London's equity markets, Vodafone Group added 3.77% after it confirmed ongoing discussions with various parties regarding its Italian unit's potential merger or divestment.

The development came in response to France's Iliad's proposal to merge their respective Italian businesses.

Ladbrokes owner Entain was ahead 4.11% after an upgrade to 'buy' from Jefferies, while British Gas parent Centrica gained 0.49% despite receiving a 'hold' rating downgrade from the same source.

Rolls-Royce Holdings rose 1% after reports that it was engaging in discussions with Ukraine's largest private power firm to collaborate on building a series of mini nuclear power plants.

IP Group jumped 5.74% after it announced a share buyback programme of up to £20m.

C&C Group, the owner of Bulmers and Magners, gained 0.42% after appointing Andrew Andrea as its chief financial officer, effective 1 March 2024.

Games Workshop Group advanced by 1.94% following news of an exclusive rights deal with Amazon for developing its Warhammer 40,000 game into films and television series, along with associated merchandising rights.

On the downside, speciality chemicals firm Croda International was off 1.38% after it announced the departure of its chief financial officer, Louisa Burdett, and indicated that full-year pre-tax profit was expected to be at the lower end of its guided range of £300m to £320m.

Precious metals miner Fresnillo faced a decline of 4.51%, primarily due to an 'underweight' rating downgrade from Morgan Stanley.

Reporting by Josh White for

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 7,614.48 0.50% FTSE 250 (MCX) 19,220.55 0.06% techMARK (TASX) 4,195.77 0.61%

FTSE 100 - Risers

Entain (ENT) 977.20p 4.11% Vodafone Group (VOD) 67.23p 3.88% Airtel Africa (AAF) 125.00p 2.63% Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 1,692.50p 2.02% AstraZeneca (AZN) 10,356.00p 1.67% GSK (GSK) 1,442.60p 1.65% BP (BP.) 465.20p 1.61% Whitbread (WTB) 3,535.00p 1.55% Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,638.00p 1.36% Shell (SHEL) 2,537.00p 1.36%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Fresnillo (FRES) 555.00p -5.23% Berkeley Group Holdings (The) (BKG) 4,705.00p -3.37% Barratt Developments (BDEV) 551.60p -2.54% RS Group (RS1) 816.60p -2.20% Kingfisher (KGF) 239.00p -2.13% Mondi (MNDI) 1,506.00p -1.86% Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 10,095.00p -1.84% International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 156.85p -1.66% National Grid (NG.) 1,048.50p -1.64% Prudential (PRU) 864.00p -1.37%

FTSE 250 - Risers

IP Group (IPO) 55.40p 5.93% OSB Group (OSB) 443.40p 4.43% Energean (ENOG) 984.00p 4.18% Harbour Energy (HBR) 234.00p 4.14% LXI Reit (LXI) 103.60p 4.12% Future (FUTR) 691.50p 2.90% ICG Enterprise Trust (ICGT) 1,232.00p 2.67% Paragon Banking Group (PAG) 641.00p 2.63% PureTech Health (PRTC) 150.60p 2.59% Helios Towers (HTWS) 73.75p 2.54%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

Moonpig Group (MOON) 163.60p -3.82% PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,165.00p -3.32% Bellevue Healthcare Trust (Red) (BBH) 144.00p -2.70% 4Imprint Group (FOUR) 4,535.00p -2.37% Dr. Martens (DOCS) 89.45p -2.24% PZ Cussons (PZC) 153.20p -2.05% TP Icap Group (TCAP) 185.80p -1.90% Diversified Energy Company (DEC) 1,310.50p -1.87% Discoverie Group (DSCV) 755.00p -1.82% Dunelm Group (DNLM) 1,116.00p -1.77%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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